I'm trying to translate a poem from Persian. In the poem there is a noun that describes the person who has woken up before the dawn, way before others! It's used in a metaphorical way to describe the person as more aware and wiser than others, not just a bit but much more than them.

Is there a noun to be used for this particular kind of purpose?

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    The nearest Anglophonic "metaphor" for this is probably the early bird (who catches the worm). But even crowing roosters don't usually start until first light, so a pre-cockcrow riser would probably be understood. Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 16:26
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    (But apart from Early to bed, early to rise \ Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise, I don't think early rising has paricularly strong associations with "wisdom". It's more something the serfs do before going to work in the fields, while the lord of the manor enjoys his lie-in.) Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 16:33
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    @FumbleFingers: The other way to say that, courtesy of humorist James Thurber: "Early to rise, early to bed / Makes a man healthy and wealthy and dead."
    – Robusto
    Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 16:41
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    What is the noun, and its definitions in Persian translated into English (please highlight the definition you're using).
    – Mazura
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 1:03
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    In modern English slang, the term 'woke' is related to having understanding that most other people don't (specifically awareness of social injustice in the world), and is related in an obvious way to 'no longer sleeping'. I am not sure it quite fits because it's not specifically pre-dawn/early rising or generic wisdom.
    – Meg
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 20:45

6 Answers 6


The generic term for this:

early riser (Collins) n
a person who gets up early in the morning: My wife and I are early risers, usually up by 6.00.

There is no specific term for someone who rises before dawn. Terms like "night owl" refer to staying up late, not getting up early.

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    The headline question and the question in the body are slightly different. The question in the body makes clear that Reza is trying to find out f there is a term with the same metaphorical meaning as in the Persian. Do you intend to convey that Early risers are 'more aware and wiser than others, not just more than others but way before them.'?
    – Spagirl
    Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 17:54
  • @Spagirl: The key is in the statement "It's used in a way to describe ..." There is nothing about the literal translation of the Farsi to suggest any subtext. It's only by convention that it acquires any overtones at all, in fact. Cf. "It's raining cats and dogs": what does that have to do with a hard rain, except that we endow it with a special meaning?
    – Robusto
    Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 18:33
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    I can’t speak to Farsi/Persian but the OP is clearly looking for something to use in their translation which does or can carry the additional meaning.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 19:24
  • ¡Qué pena que aquí no te dejen contestar madrugador, sabes?
    – tchrist
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 1:08
  • @tchrist: Sí, es muy lamentable.
    – Robusto
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 2:18

The closest idiom in English would be the early bird, from the saying

The early bird catches the worm.

The early bird (the one who wakes up early) is thought to be more prepared because it is able to seize an opportunity (like a worm) before anyone else. This idiom is thoroughly ingrained into English usage as both a noun (early bird - one who gets up early; an early-riser) and an adjective (like early bird sales, or shopping discounts that start when a store opens). This usage suggests preparedness, which may be the kind of wisdom you're looking for.

Other usages might be more regionally or metaphorically understood. The UK expression "up with the lark" might suggest a phrase like "lark-riser" or "early lark." This has some interesting symbolic associations in earlier literature and art: Chaucer (among other poets) associates the lark with daybreak ("the bisy larke, messager of day") and later poets and artists use it in various liminal (threshold) senses to mean, for example, a transition from worldly to Heavenly knowledge (see Ghirlandaio's Last Supper. That said, this would definitely fly under the threshold of most readers' conscious understanding, and I'd read it as metaphor in a poem: I'd try to figure out what the "lark" serves as a vehicle to.

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    I was admittedly unfamiliar with the "up with the lark" expression, but I'd be a little concerned that instead of conveying wisdom (per OP's request), it might be confused with the other meaning of lark: a foolish, time-wasting activity.
    – A C
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 5:44
  • Early bird goes along with the opposite for those who like to stay up late: night owl.
    – TylerH
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 15:59

You may call such a person "EARLY BIRD'' because of the other anecdotes you attached to him.

The Free Dictionary definites an Early Bird to be one who rises early or arrives before others. The Cambridge Dictionary explains such people have natural habit of rising early in order to get an advantage.


All of the above are true, but I also wanted to add that a person who rises early is also called a ‘Lark’ or a ‘morning lark’. Refer: https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/morning-lark

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    Attributing wisdom to an early riser or an early bird isn’t too incongruous, but calling a lark wise seems to produce a rather unfortunate mix of metaphors.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 4:00
  • Consider the very first line of Jane Austen's novel, To the Light House where the mother is careful enough not to hurt the child's sentiment, "Yes, of course, if it's fine tomorrow," said Mrs. Ramsay. " But you'll have to be UP WITH THE LARK," she added. I've upvoted it. Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 6:17
  • @BaridBaranAcharya Yeah but Jane Austen died over two hundred years ago - she can hardly be an authority on contemporary usage! Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 11:28
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    @BaridBaranAcharya Jane Austen didn't write To The Light House; it was Virginia Woolf.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 12:47
  • Sorry for the mistake Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 12:54

Other answers nicely address the literal aspect of your question. Let me address the metaphorical aspect. In English and other western everyday-mythologies, there are the wise owl, and the smart, cunning, or sly fox. These are allegorical animals that symbolize characteristics similar to those of your Persian metaphor of the early riser. Both are nocturnal animals, not early risers, however.


Because there is no direct english term I'd guess the Persians had, in the imagery of being awake early, the idea of one's eyes being open before all others. It evokes the mystical ability to (compared to all others) see as though in the dark what takes all others much more time and light comprehend.

The Minority Report technical jargon "precognitives", or the pejorative "precog" comes to mind.

These are either useful, or fodder for better ideas:

  • quick dawning
  • quick stirring
  • great rousing
  • dawn seeing
  • day breaker
  • dawn bearer
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    Most of these are not nouns
    – TylerH
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 16:37

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